AvantMask winner, now an accomplished designer, has local roots

Janna Kennedy holds her second favorite art mask, an upside down bat.

Winning the AvantMask competition at the Art Gallery of Viera with her timely Ruth Bader Ginsburg entry — and submitting a total of 11 masks for the contest — was natural for Brevard County native and accomplished professional designer Janna Kennedy, who now resides in St. Petersburg.

The 3D mask design shows the tiny statured Ginsburg standing as a symbolic pillar of the U.S. Supreme Court with graffiti lettering "Notorious RBG" on the columns.

"It was meant to show how towering she was,’’ Kennedy said. 

Her second favorite art mask? An upside down bat.

As a child growing up in Melbourne, her mother encouraged Kennedy to draw and color and taught her how to sew, beginning a lifelong love affair with drawing, painting  and  sewing fabrics for costuming.

The Melbourne High School graduate (1974) attended Brevard Community College. Her first job was as a portrait artist for the summer at Six Flags over Georgia. Later, she airbrushed T-shirts in Panama City Beach while earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from Florida State University. She spent several years painting sets for the Asolo State Theater — FSU’s graduate acting conservatory.

In 1984, she moved to New York City to the historic neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. In the mid-1990s, she created a nonprofit mini-theater company called Halloween 313. This community-based organization produced 23 years of live Halloween shows on her front lawn in Clinton Hill.

And along the way, she created programs for Disneyland Paris and The Disney Catalog and frequently traveled internationally for research.

After 25 years in New York City, Kennedy moved back to her home state to work as a designer in St. Petersburg’s Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood, a small-scale home business supporting the visual, performing and cultural arts while maintaining the historic residential character.